Brewday Update

Over on the ManCuisine site we are gearing up for the yearly RibFest competition.  With only three weeks before the event I thought it would be good to get some home brew together and kegged for the big day. Which means that the wort had to hit the pail today. Fortunately we had picked up an English Bitter kit from Midwest earlier in the summer!

Activation Anyone?

The yeast was activated about an hour before staring. Sadly, nothing happened. Digging through the refrigerator a package of yeast from 2009 was found along with two dry packets of brewer’s yeast from an event at the Surly Brewery awhile back. Kyle suggested throwing the two activated packages into warmer water and crossing our fingers.

We steeped the grains at 160 degrees F. for about 40 minutes and then dumped in both dry and viscous malts. Moved the temp up to boiling and added most of the Golding’s Hops as bittering agents. An English Bitter is actually much less bitter than some of the silly uber-hopped beers we have been enjoying the past few summers.We’ll add the rest of the hops the last five minutes as flavoring hops. SADLY, we are out of my own hops from last fall’s harvest and it is a bit early to harvest from the 21′ vines just yet.

The boil produces that wonderful aroma of beer and is fun to watch as the slurry turns over and over. A seven gallon kettle helps prevent boil-over with this five gallon batch. We use a turkey fryer burner to keep the boil at a perfect pitch. Fortunately this time around we are not trying to do an all-grain brew. We appreciate the shorter brew time and the reduced steps and cleanup. Next time we’ll have to give the all-grain another go. The last batch has made for a great brat-boiling beer…

Finally it’s time to cool the wort to make it safe for the yeast. We set the kettle down in a tub on two stubby 4×4 boards to raise the top of the kettle above the top of the tub. Turns out that the buoyancy of the blocks was greater than the mass of the wort. Some bungee cords quickly helped keep the bucket down as we circulated hose water and ice around the kettle.

In the end we’ve got five gallons of wort with activated yeast (the package we bought for this kit came alive while we were boiling) all set to become beer. The initial specific gravity was 1.070 which gives us a possible yield of 5.2% alcohol. A bit high for an English Bitter but it’s unlikely we’ll hit the full mark.  Look for updates in a week.

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